At my age, memories of those who already passed away often come up in mind. One of them is regarding Sugita JA1XKM. A doctor as well as a good friend of mine for more than a couple of decades.
I have met him on the air for the very 1st ever in 1980 when I came back on the radio at a dorm of the med school hospital. On the quiet band of 15m dead to any DX, late at night, he has given me a call. He lived at a city west of that dorm place. It was 20 or 30 miles away. Each of us was using a barefoor with a vertical on the roof. It was not easy for us to go on chatting with weak signal on both sides. Being in the same generation, we have still shared interests each other and have talked a lot.
It has not taken too long before he let me know of his history. When I introduced myself as a doctor starting serving residency at a med school hospital, I heard a very impressive story from him. He had been a graduate of medical school of Hokkaido University some years before we met. He has had a sleep disorder, periodic somnolence, which prevented him from getting through the exam for the doctor license for several years. I was so surprised to hear that. Even though I had little to help him, I supported him to go it through since I had just done that a few years before. He was a real nerd for ham radio as well. He told me he had activated the club station JA8YBY of Hokkaido University for a while. He used to visit us at the dorm and spent a night. I still remember seeing him at the station near by. He was smiling at me wearing trench coat at the concourse. A real sociable handsome guy whom I felt we had been friends for a long time.
His hand made QSL card. Ham radio was the window for the outer world for him while he was struggling to pass the exam for the doctor license.
Sugita and his old fashioned shack. The main radio was FT101ZD. Most of JA hams were using some products of Kenwood. He was loving Yaesu as a real connoisseur in this hobby. He had a military surplus receiver as well. His antenna was a tiny Hygain 12AVQ on the roof, which was hardly visible from streets. He was not much of a CW operator but still had a fine old hand key shown on the photo below.
Thanks to his own much effort for the exam, he passed it in a year or two. His illness was told to get better or at least to improve when the patient got older, even though he has had episodes of somnolence and a kind of depression throughout his life. Anyway, it had been several years since he graduated the med school. It was really a miraculous thing he could pass the exam and started his career as a gastroentelogist at a medical school in Tokyo. His old parents have thanked me a lot even though, as I told above, I and my wife were listening what he said about his life. It was solely due to his own relentless efforts.
In a couple of years, he invited me to his wedding party at a restaurant in the downtown of Tokyo. With his beautiful bride, he looked to be living the most brilliant moment in his life. Both of us were getting into the busiest chapter in our lives ever since. We have just exchanged the season's greeting cards in the new year season and have not met either on the air or in person for almost 2 decades. I knew he had been settled down at his own home in Saitama and had got a couple of sons. I believed he had spent happy life there.
It was when I got a phone call from his wife that I knew he had passed away from brain stem bleeding. It has occured to him in real sudden way. As soon as he came home from his working hospital, he complained something wrong with him. He has lost his consciousness and, in a few minutes, passed away while he was embraced by his wife there. The ambulance car was not in time for him. Too abrupt.
I had no words to tell to his wife. In a day or two, I drove down to his home and saw him in the living room. He looked peaceful there. Even though he has lived only 56 or 57 years, he has been blessed with his family and his success as a doctor. What effort he has spent to get it! I am sure he has lived as a doctor kind and affectionate to his patients since he has had his own illness throughout his life and has known what having illness meant to his patients.
Sure he is still missed. There must be only few who remember of this great person now. But he is still alive in my memory.
There are people around me from one to another who pass away and leave me. I don't know when it will be my turn. Until then, I should live as well as possible in order to tell them I have lived that way.